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French Open: Stefanos Tsitsipas outlasts Alexander Zverev, reaches final

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UPI News
UPI News
 3 days ago
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece (pictured) converted his fifth match point opportunity to beat Alexander Zverev of Germany in the semifinals of the 2021 French Open tennis tournament Friday at Roland Garros in Paris. Photo by Ian Langsdon/EPA-EFE

June 11 (UPI) -- Stefanos Tsitsipas drilled a 111-mph serve into the shade for an ace to capture match point and win a five-set thriller over Alexander Zverev in a French Open semifinal Friday in Paris.

Tsitsipas is the first Greek player, man or woman, to clinch a spot in a Grand Slam final. He won the three-hour, 37-minute match 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3 at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

"It was nerve-wracking," Tsitsipas told Tennis Channel. "It was so intense. ... It was very difficult and emotional.

"I went through a lot of emotional breakdowns, but this win is the most important one of my career so far."

Tsitsipas, 22, is the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam final since Andy Murray in 2010. Zverev, 24, entered the semifinal with a perfect 7-0 record in five-set matches at Roland Garros.

Tsitsipas got off to a strong start with wins in the first two sets. He dropped the first three games of the second set, but scorched back with six-consecutive game wins to claim the set.

Zverev stole the match's momentum with 6-4, 6-4 wins in the third and fourth sets.

Tsitsipas raced out to a 4-1 lead in the final set. Zverev used several aces to win the sixth game. Tsitsipas claimed the seventh game when his German counterpart hit a wide return. Zverev responded with another game point, but Tsitsipas ended the match with his speedy serve.

Zverev used his strong serve and gritty return game to stay in the match and fend off four Tsitsipas match points.

Shade started to cover a portion of the court later in the match. Tsitsipas used the shade, which made it difficult to see the ball when it went into the darkness, to his advantage on his fifth match point opportunity.

He ripped his final serve into the area. Zverev raced to the ball, but was unable to return the shot.

Tsitsipas fired eight aces and 36 winners in the victory. He won five of 14 break point opportunities and totaled 43 unforced errors and three double faults.

Zverev fired 11 aces and won three of six break points. He totaled 45 winners, 47 unforced errors and seven double faults.

Czech Barbora Krejcikova will battle Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the women's final at 9 a.m. EDT Saturday in Paris. Both players will make their Grand Slam final debuts.

Tsitsipas will face defending champion Rafael Nadal of Spain or world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the men's singles final at 9 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Nadal can pass Roger Federer for the most Grand Slams in history (21) if he beats Djokovic. The women's and men's finals air on NBC.

"All I can think of is my roots," Tsitsipas said. "I came from a really small place outside of Athens. My dream was to play here and the big stage of the French Open one day. I would have never thought that I would."